Bereavement Support

Information for parents of babies who have died in hospital

We wish to offer our sincere sympathy to you, your family and friends in your bereavement.



Bereavement is a time of grief and sorrow – this is a natural and normal part of your loss. It is also unfortunately a period during which a number of matters must be dealt with. All of this can prove bewildering and stressful and we hope this booklet will help and assist you during this difficult time.
It may help to see your baby after death. This can be arranged by a member of staff on Buscot Ward. They can also arrange for you to see the doctor who was looking after your baby to help answer any questions you may have.

What happens to my baby?Top

Your baby’s body will be taken to the hospital mortuary, until it is released to the appointed funeral director.

What happens next?Top

In most cases, the ward will give you a medical certificate stating the cause of death before you leave the hospital. However, sometimes you may be asked to call in the hospital at a later date to pick up the certificate. When you call in the ward staff will be happy to bring the certificate to you away from the ward if you prefer.
Contact a funeral director – you can do this immediately. You do not need to wait for the medical certificate to be issued.

Will a post mortem be carried out?Top

By law a coroner can order a post mortem examination. There are three main reasons why a death is referred to the Coroner:

  • A death has been sudden and unexpected.
  • A baby or child has been ill but the doctor confirming the death is not certain why it happened at that particular time.
  • A death has been the result of an accident or unusual circumstances (including deaths following a medical procedure such as surgery).

A hospital can request that a post mortem examination is carried out, but only with your consent. Or you can ask for a post mortem to be carried out.

Hospital post mortem examinationTop

Sometimes, the hospital doctor who has written the medical certificate may ask for your permission to carry out a post mortem examination. This can help doctors to understand the reason why your baby died and it may help in the treatment of other babies in the future. You will be under no pressure to agree to a hospital post mortem if you do not wish one to be carried out. The doctor will explain what is involved in the examination and will ask you to sign a consent form.
Post mortems are usually carried out within two to three working days of death, because the earlier the examination is held, the more likely it is to yield useful information. They take place in a mortuary. If your religious beliefs mean you should have a funeral very soon after death, please let the hospital know and the pathologist will try to do the post mortem within this time limit.
Usually, post mortem examinations on babies and children are referred to paediatric specialists at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where there are two specialist paediatric pathologists. If your baby is sent to Oxford for a Post Mortem he/she will be away for three working days.

Registering the deathTop

Once you have the medical certificate of cause of death you will have to register the death at the Registrar’s Office. Sometimes, the birth and the death need to be registered at the same time. If the parents are not married then both parents will need to be present at the Registrar’s Office. This is so that the baby may be registered in the father’s name.
The death must be registered within five working days at the Registrar’s Office for the area in which the death occurred. Page 6 gives the address and contains a map of the location of the Registrar’s Office. Once you have the certificate of cause of death, you will need to make a prior appointment before you go there and you will need to tell them you are coming to register both the birth and death if that is applicable.
If you are unable to get to the Registrar’s Office in this area, you can go to a Registrar in your home town in England or Wales but they will not register the death. The details will be passed on to the Registrar for the area in which your baby died and the certificate will be sent to you by post a few days later. This may cause delays in arranging the funeral.
The information needed by the Registrar and the certificates the Registrar will give you is available below.

Arranging the funeralTop

You can contact a funeral director of your choice as soon as it is convenient after the death, even before the death certificate has been issued. They will help you and advise you on the necessary arrangements.
Most funeral directors do not charge for the funeral of babies. You will find a list of some local funeral directors on the back of this booklet or the Yellow Pages directory will have contact numbers for others.
Unless you have already done so, the funeral director will notify your local minister, priest or vicar and he or she should visit you to talk about the funeral service.
Burials may be in a churchyard, local authority or private cemetery. The same applies to cremated remains that may be buried or scattered in a garden of remembrance or a favourite place. Please remember that if you wish to use your own garden for the purpose, you may some day want to move house (ask for the Trust leaflet entitled Burial on private land).

Registration of births, marriages and deathsTop

Registrar’s Office
Yeomanry House (Entrance in Coley Avenue)
131 Castle Hill
Reading RG1 7TA
Tel: 0118 901 5124

Registrations by prior appointment only.

Opening hours: 9.00am-12.30pm Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri; 9.30am-12.30pm Wed; and from 2.00pm-4.00pm Mon-Fri.

At the Registrar’s OfficeTop

What information to bring with you

The list of those qualified to register a death is attached to the envelope given to you by the Bereavement Officer. Please check your eligibility before going to the Registrar’s Office. The person who goes to the Registrar’s Office with the hospital certificate or at the direction of the Coroner’s Officer must, whenever possible, be able to give the following particulars:

  • The date and place (ward name and hospital name) of death and the parents’ usual address.
  • The full names and surname (spelt correctly) of the baby.
  • The date and place of birth (town or county, or, if from abroad, the country) of the deceased.
  • The date of admission to hospital.

What the Registrar will give youTop

  • A green certificate (Form 9) which you should give to your funeral director as soon as possible. There is no charge made for this.
  • A notification or registration of death form (BD8) for use in connection with Department of Work and Pensions benefits. This is also free.

Who can help and support you?Top

Alongside your family and friends, your GP and health centre staff, social worker, schools and faith, there are several local groups that can offer you support and comfort. At the end of this booklet there is a list of organisations that may be able to give you practical and emotional help, advice and support at this difficult time.


There is a bereavement counselling service available on Buscot Ward. Telephone 0118 322 7431 to make an appointment.

Also Counselling Directory provides a huge support network of counsellors, enabling visitors to find a counsellor close to them and appropriate for their needs. For more information on that service please click here.

The ChaplaincyTop

The Trust has a team of chaplains of different religions and denominations who are available to offer you support and guidance in your grief. You can ring the chaplains directly on: 0118 322 7105 or you can ask a member of staff, the receptionists or the switchboard to page them.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)Top

PALS is an impartial, confidential and friendly service that can guide you through the different services at the Trust. PALS can help you with on-the-spot advice and support and can give you practical information at a time when you are feeling confused and anxious. PALS can be contacted on: 0118 322 8025 or ask a member of staff, the receptionists or the switchboard to page them.
If you still have questions regarding the care or death of your baby, PALS can help facilitate a meeting with the consultant responsible for their care.

Other Trust leaflets availableTop

Please ask the ward staff if you would like a copy of any of the following:

  • Caring for your child’s body at home
  • Burial on private land
  • Information for relatives following a bereavement
  • PALS for patients
  • Talk to us

Contact usTop

Buscot Ward

Telephone: 0118 322 7431

PALS Office

Telephone: 0118 322 8025

Useful organisationsTop

Child Bereavement UK

Child Bereavement UK- formerly Child Bereavement Trust supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.
Every year we train c. 6000 professionals, helping them to better understand and meet the needs of grieving families.

For more information or to support the work of the charity, please email:
Visit our website: or call us on: 01494 568900
Support & Information line: 0800 02 888 40

Child-Death Helpline

Telephone: 0800 282 986
Helpline based at Great Ormond Street Hospital, offering information and advice following the death of a child.

Compassionate Friends

Telephone: 0117 953 9639
Helpline run by bereaved parents offering support and advice to bereaved parents. Open every day 10am – 10.30pm.

The Cot Death Society

Telephone: 01635 861771

Cruse Bereavement Care

Telephone: 0870 167 1677 (National)
Telephone: 0142 056 1456 (Basingstoke)
Telephone: 0118 958 8133 (Reading)
Telephone: 01344 411919 (Wokingham & Bracknell)
Cruse is a support group for all bereaved people.

Daisy’s Dream

Telephone: 0118 934 2604
Support service for bereaved children in the Berkshire area.

Foundation for the study of infant deaths

Telephone: 0118 934 2604

Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society

Telephone: 0207 436 5881

Sudden Death Association

Telephone: 0118 988 9797
Organisation for relatives and friends of people who die suddenly.

Winston’s Wish

Telephone: 0145 239 4377
Information and advice for bereaved children.

Other useful telephone numbersTop

Citizens Advice Bureaux

Minister Street, Reading RG1 2JB
Telephone: 0118 959 8059

16 Bartholomew St, Newbury RG14 5LL
Telephone: 01635 521903

Wellington House, Wellington Rd, Wokingham RG40 2AG
Telephone: 0118 989 0389

The Registrar of Births & Deaths

Telephone: 0118 901 5124

Social Services (Reading)

Telephone: 0118 955 3600

The Samaritans

Telephone: 0845 790 9090

National Association of Bereavement Services

Telephone: 0207 709 9090

National Bereavement Helpline

Telephone: 0845 226 7227

List of some local funeral directorsTop

The Trust does not endorse the use of any particular service. Please also see the Yellow pages directory.

Ash Brook 01256 881002 (Tadley)
R Aubrey Miles & Sons 0118 979 7004 (Wokingham)
Brian Bentley Funeral Services 01344 772773 (Crowthorne)
Camp Hopson & Co Ltd 01635 522210 (Newbury)
Geoffrey Church & Co 01488 686830 (Hungerford)
0118 981 4420 (Tadley)
01635 868444 (Thatcham)
Co-operative Funeral Service 0118 966 7922 (Earley)
0118 987 4473 (Reading)
David Greedy 01344 773741 (Crowthorne)
JB Hall 0118 979 3623 (Wokingham)
Cyril H Lovegrove 0118 946 1393 (Caversham)
0118 957 2016 (Reading)
0118 945 2103 (Tilehurst)
01344 421949 (Bracknell)
Richard Lloyd Funeral Service 0118 969 3033 (Woodley)
RC Smallbone Ltd 01635 40536 (Newbury)
Tomalin & Son 01491 573370 (Henley)
AB Walker & Son Ltd 01344 303707 (Bracknell)
01491 413434 (Henley)
0118 957 3650 (Reading)

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
London Road, Reading RG1 5AN
0118 322 5111
Patient Information
February 2008

This text is taken from a leaflet created by the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, and was not made by BIBS.